Outsmarting Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Simple Steps to Create a Hormone-Healthy Family

Have you noticed increased fatigue lately or questioned the safety of new household items? You are not alone. Many common products contain hidden endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with hormones, impact health, affect fertility, and influence your child's development. As reliance on manufactured products and chemical production steadily increases, understanding EDCs is more critical than ever. In collaboration with Ana Herrera, Founder of Hormone University, we will explore scientifically-backed steps to reduce exposure to these chemicals and adopt healthier alternatives for happier hormones. By raising awareness and promoting informed choices, we aim to mitigate the impact of EDCs and support the health and well-being of future generations.

Unmasking & Understanding Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

Imagine being surrounded by a sea of 85,000 chemicals, with over 1,000 capable of disrupting our hormones. These elusive troublemakers are known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals. While some EDCs are well-understood, others remain enigmatic. What exactly do they disrupt? The endocrine system—the body's hormonal master regulator. Hormones are not solely responsible for reproduction; they also regulate cardiovascular health, body temperature, stress responses, sleep patterns, and mental well-being. The endocrine system functions as a finely tuned feedback loop, with hormones acting as biological markers. EDCs mimic these hormones, tricking the system into thinking it has sufficient levels, leading to unnecessary shutdowns in hormone production. The widespread presence of EDCs is alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of multiple EDCs in the blood and urine of nearly all Americans tested, indicating widespread exposure. Additionally, a report from the Endocrine Society estimates that EDC exposure costs the United States over $340 billion annually in healthcare expenses and lost productivity due to associated health issues. Studies have linked EDCs to a range of health problems, including a 20% decline in sperm counts over the past 40 years and a significant increase in the incidence of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. EDCs come in various forms, including pesticides, heavy metals, food additives, and contaminants. They can be found in baby toys, canned foods, and even menstrual underwear. This pervasive presence makes it imperative to take proactive steps in reducing exposure to these harmful chemicals.


The Fertility Piece & How Reproduction is Impacted

Fertility rates worldwide have been on a downward trend, and the reasons are multifaceted: lack of support, ecological constraints, and career aspirations all play a role. However, there’s another critical layer to this story—one that’s deeply biological. Studies have shown that male fertility has declined significantly, with a 52% decrease in sperm counts over the past four decades. In women, EDCs disrupt hormone levels, exacerbating reproductive issues.

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) axis serves as the chief regulator of reproductive processes. EDCs disrupt this axis, leading to metabolic chaos, diabetes, obesity, and infertility. These harmful chemicals interfere with androgen, estrogen, and steroidogenesis pathways, impacting hormone functions essential for puberty and the development of the baby in utero. A report from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine indicates that exposure to EDCs is linked to increased rates of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and decreased ovarian reserves.

Understanding and addressing the impact of EDCs on fertility is crucial for reversing these trends and promoting reproductive health. The question now is what can we do?


Steps Towards Optimizing Hormone Health 

    1. Awareness Matters: Education around harmful chemicals and where they can be hiding is key. Understand the ingredients in the products you use and the foods you eat. By identifying and avoiding potential issues early, we can prevent unnecessary health problems. For instance, the EU has banned over 1,200 harmful chemicals, while the US has only restricted 119. Awareness is the first step to making safer choices!
    2. Health Over Convenience: Prioritize your health over convenience. When choosing products, ask yourself, "Is this truly necessary?" Opt for items with fewer chemicals and read ingredient labels. Avoid products with known EDCs such as BPA, phthalates, and parabens also known as “forever chemicals”, PFAS are a family of over 10,000 chemicals that are known as 'forever chemicals' because they will last in the environment for generations.
    3. Small Swaps, Big Changes: Switching to a non-toxic lifestyle can be daunting as you uncover how many chemicals are in our environment. Every small change counts. Switch to natural cleaning products, wash new clothes before wearing them, and replace plastic containers with BPA-free or glass options. Research indicates that these simple swaps can significantly reduce EDC exposure!
      • Reading Ingredient Labels: Ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration. The first few ingredients usually make up the bulk of the product. Look for familiar, natural ingredients and avoid products with long lists of unrecognizable or complex chemical names. A good rule of thumb is to choose products with fewer ingredients. Products with a shorter ingredient list often contain fewer synthetic chemicals and are easier to evaluate for potential harmful substances.
    1. Education Starts Early: Teach children to listen to their bodies and make healthier choices. Encourage them to use fewer personal care products and opt for natural alternatives. 
    2. Brands That Care: Choose brands committed to health and safety. Look for companies that prioritize non-toxic ingredients and transparency. Hormone University, for example, offers a selection of conscientious products that also act as hormone balancers—ideal for those with PCOS or endometriosis. They have also created an Endocrine Safe Seal of Approval, helping individuals navigate through clean marketing to find truly safe products! 

Implementing these steps can have a significant impact on reducing EDC exposure and promoting overall health. By making informed choices and supporting responsible brands, you can create a safer, healthier environment for you and your family.

July 02, 2024 — Lauren Wright